When does the wrath of God begin?

By Rev. Roger Best

This is a vital question since we as believers are promised deliverance from God's wrath. In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we are told "to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come." And again in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation (deliverance) through our Lord Jesus Christ." In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) and in Luke 17 Jesus tells us that His coming will be like it was in the days of Noah and Lot. The same day that Noah and his family entered the ark (Gen 7:11-13) the rains came, and as Lot retreated from Sodom and Gomorrah judgment came. That same pattern of timing will occur when Christ returns for us; we will be taken and then judgment - the wrath of God - will come upon the earth.

The period of the wrath of God is spoken of in Scripture as "The Day of the Lord." In Amos 5:20 the day of the Lord is spoken of as a day of darkness and gloom. In Zephaniah 1:14-15 it says, "Near is the great day of the Lord, near and coming very quickly; listen, the day of the Lord! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness." The day of the Lord is the day of God's wrath.

In 1 Thessalonians 5 the Apostle Paul writes that to the believer the day of the Lord will not come like a thief in the night; in fact, the admonition is to be alert and serious. Then in 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul says that the day of the Lord will not come until "the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3b - 4). Now with that in mind, we go to Matthew 24 and see in verses 22, 29, 30, and 31 that Christ cuts the persecution of Antichrist short with His coming for the saints. The disciples had asked, "What is the sign of your coming and the end of the age?" (v. 3), and Jesus explains what will take place. The sign of His coming is the heavens lighting up like lightning, and the sign of the end of the age is the cosmic disturbance that results in the sun, moon, and stars going dark. We see this occurrence at the sixth seal in Revelation 6 and see that it fits exactly with what Joel 2:31 says: "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes."

At the opening of the sixth seal we see Jesus Christ coming in the clouds for the saints, followed immediately by the wrath of God. The first five seals which are on the outside of the scroll are broken and non-supernatural events (false christs, war, famine, death and martyrdom) take place with a greater intensity than ever before. Revelation 12:12 speaks of this persecution by Antichrist as Satan's wrath, but when the seventh seal is broken the scroll is opened and Revelation 8:1 tells us that "there was silence in heaven for about a half hour." Why? Because all of heaven knows that it is time for God's wrath. As the seven trumpets are blown and the seven bowls are poured out, the events that take place are supernatural as God's judgment falls upon planet earth.

 

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